Tag Archives: printing press

Relief printing: an architectural perspective

Special Collections and Archives has recently acquired a 19th century iron hand printing press and several sets of type (further announcements coming later in the autumn – watch this space)! With the collection barely unpacked, Jonathan formeHarker, an Architecture postgraduate, was keen to make use of it. As his designs are inspired by the concept of traditional relief printing methods, he utilised a number of our formes (arrangements of type, from which a page may be printed) to support his final design review examination. Many thanks to Jonathan for providing this guest blog post:

“As an Architecture Masters student interested in the valuing of traditional graphic and print culture, I worked with the staff at Special Collections and Archives, Cardiff University to show the relationship of my design process to their recently acquired printing press and formes.

archi_displayThe title of my architecture design thesis was A ProtoType Foundry. The project took a historic look at large scale exhibition events known as world’s fairs or EXPOs. These types of events are given a strong graphic identity and are now perhaps more fondly referenced by the work of a typeface foundry or poster campaign rather than the neglected architectural showpieces.

The tectonic concept for the external façade of my building design was a pre-casting of concrete panels against arrangements of metal formwork pieces. The finished aesthetic gave a relieved set of universal graphic guidelines for setting out typography. This process draws a relationship to the arrangement of furnitureletterpress blocks in a setting out tray as the negative of what would then be inked and pressed against cartridge paper or vellum. In the proposed architectural instance the arranged sheet cut metal pieces would be layered up within a larger tray and have concrete poured against to cast the inverse mould.

At my final design review, Special Collections and Archives kindly allowed me to display two formes from the collection as an example of a moveable block composition and tray. This traditional process informed the origin of the concept for an architectural application.

I would like to extend my thanks to Special Collections and Archives for their help with allowing me to include this valuable resource in my studies.”

– Jonathan Harker, Postgraduate student in the Welsh School of Architecture

Image of a printing press

Within our collections at SCOLAR we have several editions of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain.  Two of our earliest date from 1508 and 1517 and were both printed by Jocodus Badius Ascensius (1462-1535) in Paris. The title pages bear the trademark illustration of his printing shop, known as the Prelum Ascensianum.

On the left we have a printer with ink balls (pads) waiting to ink the text, and one tightening the screw press, whilst on the right we can see the type setter.

The edition from 1517 bears the signature of Dr Thomas Tanner and the date 1696;  this was the year he became a Fellow of All-Souls College, Oxford.  Thomas Tanner was a renowned antiquarian and the author of Notitia Monastica (a history of the monastic houses in England and Wales) and Bibliotheca Britannico-Hibernica (a dictionary of pre 17th century British authors); educated at Queen’s College Oxford, he went on to take holy orders in 1694.  His career progressed steadily until he became the Bishop of St Asaph in 1732, although he was to die only three years later.  He bequeathed his collection of manuscripts and many of his books to the Bodleian Library in Oxford.